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10 Study Hacks for Getting Better Grades

10 Study Hacks for Getting Better Grades

You know as well as anyone else that not every method for studying works the same for everyone. However, there are a number of tips to use in order to study better and get better grades. Ideally, you will use these hacks for studying through the whole year, and not just when exams come around. Try not to overload yourself with trying them all at once though. That said, some can be used hand-in-hand.

1. Utilize Caffeine

Caffeine aids in kicking the brain into gear for studying. It is most beneficial when used in small breaks throughout studying, rather than in one huge dose prior to studying. This will ensure that your brain gets continual kick starts, as opposed to one huge jolt followed by a dramatic crash.

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2. Talk to your Teachers

These are the people that make all of your tests, so take the time to talk with them. You will be able to gain insight into how they are thinking, allowing you to study in a way that will benefit you when taking tests. It won’t hurt to ask your teachers what they will be looking for on the test and find out exactly what you will need to study.

3. Use Mnemonic Strategies

Making up your own allow you to remember sequences and key concepts with ease. This does take a bit of time, but creating your own mnemonic devices is the difference between active learning and passive learning. This strategy has proven to improve an individual’s ability to remember. If you don’t want to make up your own, search the internet for some that relate to the subject that you are studying.

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4. Chew Gum When Studying

Studies have shown that when you chew gum, your focus and concentration are boosted. Don’t stop there! You can also chew gum while you are taking a test or exam. This forms a connection in the brain that will help you remember what you studied while you were chewing gum. This kind of study hack is called context dependency.

5. Block Out Distractions

Aim to avoid extraneous activities on your computer, tablet, or phone while studying. Try to turn them off and place them in another room. If you don’t have enough self-restraint, there are free apps that will restrict your access to specified websites for a predetermined amount of time.

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6. Tackle it in Small Portions

When there is a large portion of information that needs to be learned, break it down into smaller, more manageable portions. Don’t do it all at once. Rather, you should aim to learn a different portion each day. Furthermore, do not start a new portion until you have the current one down.

7. Try Studying in a New Space

Aim to switch up where you study every day. When you change studying spaces, it will force your brain to form new memories each time, making it more likely that you will retain the new material.

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8. Read Your Notes Out Loud

Read them out loud to yourself, with a friend, or even to your cat. When you speak and hear the words, it will help to reinforce the material in a new way. When you find a partner, this study hack will benefit both of you.

9. Read Before the Lecture

This is the best way to get the most out of your classes. It will reinforce the material—twice. It will also help you answer questions that your teacher poses to the class.

10. Study with the Right Music

Unfamiliar music or ambient noise has the potential to boost productivity. Remember though, that familiar music has the potential to have the opposite effect. There are plenty of ways to find the right type of noise. Finding an internet radio station with instrumental music or video game soundtracks will do the trick.

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Sasha Brown

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Last Updated on September 11, 2019

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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  • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
  • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
  • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
  • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

Benefits of Using a To-Do List

However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

  • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
  • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
  • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
  • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
  • You feel more organized.
  • It helps you with planning.

4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

1. Categorize

Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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2. Add Estimations

You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

3. Prioritize

To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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  • Important and urgent
  • Not urgent but important
  • Not important but urgent
  • Not important or urgent

You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

4.  Review

To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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Bottom Line

So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

To your success!

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Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

Reference

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